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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

Stick A Fork In It: Tis the Season to be Tasty

Well, kids, once again we’ve reached the holidays, that magical time of year when we get to suck our bank accounts dry because of our nation’s screwy materialistic concept of love. Yay, I mean, fa la la la la! But, not to sound like an after school special, what’s really important this time of year is spending time with the people you care about, not spending money. So, in the true spirit of the season I’m going to give a few simple, inexpensive recipes that you can make with your friends on a wintry home-bound night.

The recipes I’ve chosen are just a few things to pick at, and really, who wants to waste time cooking a feast? We’ll leave that to our moms. To have a nice dinner party (if you want to call it that) three things are paramount: one, bread (not cheesy sliced bread, a loaf, at least one); two, another form of snack. I prefer and suggest marinated olives but just go over to that section in the grocery store that sells olives, cheese, etc., and find something fun to gnosh (you can also, throw out some nachos and guacamole); three, multiple bottles of wine (Hoffman Grove Cabernet is a nice, smooth, and inexpensive wine. If you like white, Alice White Chardonnay is good and also cheap). Regardless of what you choose, always have something to eat and drink out on the table for your guests. Now, that we got that out of the way, let’s get cooking (don’t worry, with these recipes you won’t screw up).

o Steamed ArtichokeArtichokes can seem a bit intimidating at first, but trust me, they’re easier to cook than a grilled cheese sandwich. To prepare, first wash and drain your lovely artichoke. Than, cut the stem so that the artichoke can stand upright. Also, remove the tough base leaves, the top 1/2 inch (the prickly part), and then cut off the top third of leaves, exposing the heart. The size of the pot you use depends on how many artichokes you’re planning to make. In your pot, add about one to two inches of water, some lemon juice or a slice of lemon, and some salt. Bring the water to a boil, add your artichoke(s) leaves facing up, and then lower the heat to medium. For a medium sized artichoke it will take about 25-35 minutes to cook, for a larger artichoke it will take about 35-45 minutes. The trick to knowing when it’s done is to stick a fork into its heart. If the heart gives no resistance you’re ready to go. Put it onto a plate with some melted butter in a bowl (I like to add some chopped garlic when melting the butter on the stove top) and you have a perfectly tasty appetizer. If you don’t know how to eat them, just peel off the leaves, dip them into the butter, and eat the tender part. Don’t be surprised if your guests show a lot of exuberance when eating artichokes, it has long been considered an aphrodisiac in many countries. Who knows, maybe you’ll get a rise in holiday cheer, if you know what I mean!

o Cheese FondueFondue was created in the 16th century when Zurich was under siege. The inhabitants fed themselves on a small stock of available ingredients-mainly, bread and cheese. Wow, precisely what I always have in my kitchen! Amazing the things college kids have in common with the poverty ridden people of the Middle Ages. Fondue is another one of those daunting things that in actuality is super simple to prepare. There really isn’t an exact method to making it, all it takes is cheese and imagination. So, I’ll give you a few recipes you can mess around with.For one you’ll need:3/4 chicken broth2 tbsp. Grey Poupon2 tbsp. cornstrarch2 cups sharp cheddar cheeseBring the broth to a boil in a heavy sauce pan. Reduce the heat to medium. Stir in the cornstarch and the mustard, then the cheese. Make sure it’s well blended and creamy. Fondue’s not fun when it’s lumpy. That’s it, you’re done. If you have a fondue pot pour it into that, otherwise keep it in the pan, or serve it into a hollowed out round bread loaf. The second cheese recipe is more creative. You’ll need:Fontina cheese (about 2 cups, depending) or any cheese you wanta little bit of beer GarlicCream or milkRub a garlic clove along the inside of your heavy sauce pan. Add the cheese, don’t boil it! Pour some beer (you can opt for wine, if you want). As far as measurements go, just keep an eye on the consistency and use your own discretion. Then add a bit of cream or milk. Stir, stir, stir. Voilà, that’s it. Serve up the same as the other one. That wasn’t hard, was it? For dipping into the fondue you can use just about anything. Dice some chicken or beef, seasoned however you like and cooked, chop a bunch of veggies, or slice some bread into cubes and toast. I find that shishkabob skewers are good to use for dunking. Make sure your fondue stays hot.

o Chocolate FondueIt’s not sugar plums, but dessert doesn’t get any easier than this. Take a bag of chocolate chips and melt them into a pot with some cream and butter added to your desired consistency. Keep it very hot but don’t boil. Serve with some sliced fruit or maybe some cubed angel food cake. Mmmmmm, melty chocolate goodness. These recipes are great because they’re all about sharing, and that’s what this season is all about, right? So, dip, strip, and cook with your friends, but this time with some yummy food. Toast the holiday and each other, and don’t forget the mistletoe!